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An F-35B Lightning II, with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 “Green Knights,” refuels on the flight line aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, Aug. 18. The Lightning II is scheduled to show off its capabilities during demonstrations at the 2014 Miramar Air Show, Oct. 3-5.

Photo by Cpl. Raquel Barraza

F-35 makes Miramar Air Show debut

1 Oct 2014 | Cpl. Raquel Barraza 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

At the 2014 Miramar Air Show spectators will see many military aircraft, but this year, one particular aircraft will be making its first appearance.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, is scheduled to show off the capabilities of the F-35B Lightning II during demonstrations at the air show, Oct. 3-5.

As the newest aircraft to join the Marine Corps aviation arsenal, the F-35 will display its 39,000 pound-thrust while it hovers over the flight line.

“The lift system is what it really unique about this aircraft,” said Sgt. Yi Suo, VMFA-121 plane captain. “It enables the aircraft to take off on a short runway and land vertically. The lift systems coupled with the three bearing swivel module enable the aircraft to defy the laws of gravity.”

Although this is not the first time VMFA-121 will perform a demonstration for the public, it is the first time they will for more than 100,000 people.

“Our squadron is certainly eager to actually be able to bring the aircraft out to Miramar, the home of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and show the residents of San Diego,” said Maj. Michael Wyrsch, VMFA-121 pilot. “Someday the F-35 will be at Miramar and we are just so excited to be a part of this [event].”

The F-35 will display its aerodynamic abilities in the San Diego skies, but its true advantage lies in the internal systems.

“I wouldn’t call the F-35 better just more capable,” said Wyrsch. “What it brings to the fight is unparalleled situational awareness for the pilot. The amount of information that is delivered to the pilot is unbelievable.”

Marines of VMFA-121 hope to show the advantage this aircraft brings to the Marine Corps aviation capabilities, although this variant of the F-35 is not currently employed yet in operational missions.
“It is the best of both worlds when you take a look at it at from an aerodynamic perspective,” said Lt. Col. Steve Gillette, VMFA-121 commanding officer. “It has cutting edge flying skills of fighter [jets] that are currently employed in the Department of Defense inventory and then take the capability of having operational flexibility of being able to land almost anywhere via vertical landing. It’s pretty amazing.”

The demonstration is slated to take place at 12:30 p.m., all three days of the air show.